Inhabitat has a post on an interesting phenomenon that causes glass to generate intense mag0entic fields when concentrated sunlight passes through it - Solar Power Breakthrough Could Render Photovoltaic Cells Obsolete. Cryptogon points out that there is a big caveat - "Wow, this is a weird one. The buzz kill occurs when you read that the light needs to be focused to 10 million watts per square centimeter to realize the effect. The researchers are looking for materials that work at lower intensities. ".
Researchers at the University of Michigan have made a discovery about the behavior of light that could change solar technology forever. Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics and William Fisher, a doctoral student in applied physics, discovered that light, when traveling at the right intensity through a material such as glass that does not conduct electricity, can create magnetic fields that are 100 million times stronger than previously thought possible. In these conditions, the resulting magnetic field is strong enough to rival a strong electric effect. The result is an “optical battery, which could lead to “a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation”, according to Rand.